Masters is done and dusted…. Now what?

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As the months roll on, I find myself in a predicament, the predicament of reality. Reality starts to slowly seep in; the assessment tasks, oral presentations and final exams are coming to an end, signalling the end of the required coursework for the Master of Dietetics. Surely it can’t be over already, can it? What do you mean there are no more assignments? What… does that mean I can have a weekend? For those Downton Abbey fans out there, I quote the Dowager Countess when I say “what is a weekend?” I no longer remember what it feels like to have time off without the niggle of guilt creeping up.

Many of you may be relishing in the relief that this crazy dietetic ride is finished – we are free!  Having said that, why am I not feeling more excited that dietetics is nearly finished? Is it just me feeling this way? The end of dietetics means the end of 4 ½ years (or more for many students!) of university study and that the process of job hunting needs to commence, this is no longer ‘Future Ella’s’ problem. To be frank –the wheel of worry begins to spin sending me on a cycle of; ‘I’ve spent a significant proportion of my younger years working towards being a dietitian, but now I am a dietitian, what if I can’t get a job? I don’t want to look like a failure!’.

I had a relatively straight forward entry into university, I achieved the marks I needed in VCE, went straight from school an undergraduate degree of Food and Nutrition and then with a lot of hard work and no life for 3 years I was granted a position within the Master of Dietetics.

It is common knowledge that the majority of us dietetic students are ‘type A’ personalities meaning we love a plan and structure. This depicts me perfectly, there is nothing better than a good plan, this is exactly how I have gone about my tertiary studies. Of course there have been some hurdles along the way but more often than not I always refer back to my roadmap of where I think I’m heading, which is to finish dietetics and enter the world of military dietetics (a bit unique I know! 🙂 ).

 As the Masters comes to an end, if you are anything like me at the moment you may be feeling somewhat lost. In a way you lose your identity as you have been a uni student for so many years and now that is all going to change. You no longer have the assessment pieces, dietetic placement or the worry about upcoming exams – thank goodness! We are entering into a new phase, it is now time to put our big girl (or boy) pants on and face the real world of job hunting! Over the past few weeks in particular you would have no doubt been asked the barrage of questions from pretty much everyone you encounter regarding dietetic jobs; grandma: “have you got a job yet?”, patients: “so when do you start work?”, parents: “you’re going to need some money coming in soon” Ahh yes thanks everyone, I am aware and the constant questioning isn’t actually helpful it just adds to my own stress and worry! Of course this line of question comes from a good place but it just adds to the steady stream of unanswered questions and stress swirling in my head as to where I am heading. I was ‘reflecting’ as all good dietetic students do J and I think this feeling of unease stems from the notion that when trying to break into the dietetic profession there is no roadmap to follow.

 You may have an idea in your mind of what area you would like to start in, the population group you are passionate about working with but this is dependent on so many variables such as funding within the organisation, position availability and timing.

So after all that reflecting – where does that leave us…. I live by the premise that everything in life happens for a reason, whether or not that reason is evident to us at the time is debatable. We need to trust in ourselves that we have put in the hard yards and we shall be rewarded for our years of dedication to our studies. Whether of not that means we will find a terrific job straight away or it may take us a bit longer or we may be sick of dietetics all together and no longer want to work in the field at all! Have your ideal roadmap in your mind but perhaps we need to ease our grip on the map that we have clung to for so long and embrace the fact that it is ok if the map gets a little wiggly and uneven. Just remember guys and gals; when it all gets too much, pop the kettle on, bake some scones and relax – all will be well.

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Ella Monaghan completed her Bachelor of Food and Nutrition at Deakin University and is currently a student dietitian within the Master of Dietetics course. Ella is keen to pursue a career in military dietetics in Australia or the UK upon completion of dietetics. Follow on Twitter: nutrition_ella

photo credit:  flickr

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4 thoughts on “Masters is done and dusted…. Now what?

    • Courtney says:

      Hi Rachel, many thanks for your kind words. A military dietitian covers many areas, but before i jump into that Ill need to set the scene. In Australia the employment opportunities are very+++ limited for military dietitians as dietitians are no longer employed directed with the Australian Defence Force (ADF), instead dietitians are contracted by the major health contract. Meaning dietitians are no longer located ‘on base’ and instead primarily work within private practice established close to the army barracks. Military dietetics can encompass many forms including; research (including the development of ration packs, conducting research on the effect of nutrition of military performance etc), private practice involving face to face consults primarily personnel are referred in order to ensure they are meeting the very stringent health requirements, weight loss etc. Military dietetic differs depending on the country, for example in the US there is a specific tertiary training course specifically for military dietitians who then enlist and are classified as ‘active’ personnel whereby you are required to undertake the physical exams, shooting etc. To sum all that up, our military personnel are considered athletes thus their nutrient requirements are very high and as such this population group have seperate nutrition equations etc. Therefore, the primary role for dietitians within defence is to ensure the nutritional health of all personnel whether that be in a food service, research, private practice, on base (O/S) or clinical (O/S) setting. It is very diverse and which is why I am so drawn to this area. Upon talking to a military dietitian I was advised that in order to enter this field you really need to have a passion for defence, you need to have that drive and a general interest in war history etc because it really underpins everything.

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